Scholarship Spotlight: Emergency Funds For College, To Leading Emergency Services

by Elena Tayem, communications coordinator at the George Snow Scholarship Fund (GSSF). This nationally recognized Palm Beach County public charity is dedicated to providing scholarships and support services to young men and women with financial need so they can build a better life through the pursuit of higher education. 

Since its inception, the Fund has giving out over $8.2 million in educational grants and aims to award at least one grant to each public high school in Palm Beach. They are a part of a village of private donors, corporations and organizations who believe in education, and put their money where their mouth is.

GSSF shares special stories here on Faces of Education of students who strive against the odds to realize their dreams and desires for a better life.

Alexander Falcone still remembers the day of his George Snow Scholarship Fund (GSSF) interview. He was itching from head to toe. He had just gotten his wisdom teeth out and was having a bad allergic reaction to his medicine. Luckily an oatmeal bath did the trick and he was able to win over his interview panel, becoming a 2011 Snow Scholar.

Alex attended Atlantic Community High School. As a GSSF scholar he earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and a Masters in Public Administration, both from Florida State University. He holds a graduate certificate in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and is a Certified Floodplain Manager.

Alex still remembers how incredible the GSSF 2011 Awards Reception was, and how it felt to get the care packages with the cookies and encouraging “we believe in you” notes. He still has the computer, backpack and some of the supplies we provided to him. And on his first day of work Alex took pride in bringing his coffee in his GSSF mug.

Small grants make big impact

“The GSSF helped me by relieving my financial stress, and that allowed me to focus on goals and studies full-time.”

Alex began his career in public safety as a seasonal police officer for the Cape May City Police Department in New Jersey. He went on to become a Mitigation Planner for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) where he worked across a 36 county region assisting with the development and review of Local Mitigation Strategies. Alex left FDEM as the Lead Mitigation Planner and is currently the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Coral Springs.

Alex is a police department employee but he technically works for the whole city. “When you have an emergency, like a hurricane or pulse nightclub for example, you have a million different organizations show up. Nobody has the same reporting lines, nobody has the same boss. So how are you going to organize all these different organizations?”

That’s where Alex comes in.

He runs a system of management referred to as the EOC (emergency operation center); it’s used the most for hurricanes. “We work on making sure the city is able to handle anything that comes our way,” said Alex. “There are 126,000 residents in Coral Springs. And in an emergency situation everybody wants to help but no one knows what their job is.” So Alex comes up with all the worst-case scenarios and creates the systems to handle them.

But that’s not all. Somehow, he finds time to be an adjunct faculty member for Barry University, where he instructs emergency management coursework. Alex is an Eagle Scout, golfer and can frequently be found on his motorcycle. His slogan? “Be prepared!!” He learned that as a Boy Scouts and is now teaching it to an entire city.

To this day, Alex brings his engraved GSSF cross pen to all of his meetings. Now, his younger brother Bradley is a Snow Scholar, so Alex enjoys his brother’s care package as well. “[GSSF] truly is a family and the support continues even as an alumni,” said Alex. “They were instrumental to my success and one day I hope I can give back to scholarships.”


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